COVID-19 Team Update: Mitigations, including vaccination, will help keep us safe

Banner showing COVID-19 virus

As we enter the holiday season, there are so many reasons for us to pause and appreciate how far we have come. All our museums have safely and successfully reopened to the public, including the Arts and Industries Building – highlighting that the COVID-19 mitigations we use are working to keep our facilities safe for our visitors and staff.

As such, we will be keeping our safety protocols in place. Mandatory face coverings (even for those who are fully vaccinated) are still required indoors, social distancing must be maintained, and most importantly, if you’re sick, stay home. We request these things not just of our staff, but also of our visitors. We are also closely monitoring news of the Omicron variant. Safety measures such as masking, distancing, and remaining home while ill will provide protection against the spread of that variant just as they have done with Delta.

With the November 22nd vaccine mandate deadline behind us, we have even more reason to trust the health and safety of our facilities. Our teammates in Occupational Health Services (OHS) are still entering your vaccination data and units will begin validating that data shortly. While this process continues, no disciplinary actions will be taken in regards to the vaccine mandate. We anticipate all the data will be carefully reviewed and fully validated by the beginning of January.

The Secretary chose to require vaccination as a way to increase safety in the workplace. This still holds true even after the deadline has passed. There is still time to get vaccinated if you have not yet done so.

If you are in the D.C. area and still need to be vaccinated, or would like to receive a booster, the D.C. Department of Health will be sponsoring a vaccination clinic at the National Zoo on Thursday, December 9th from 9:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. for anyone 12 or over. All three vaccine types will be available. Simply bring an ID and your CDC card (should you have already started the vaccination process). Booster shots will only be given to individuals who completed their initial Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series at least six months prior or Johnson & Johnson two months prior. For the latest information on booster shots, please visit this CDC website. More information can be found here as it becomes available (website typically updates daily).

Remember, the Smithsonian is providing 4 hours of administrative leave for your appointments, including boosters, and 8 hours (or one shift) to recover from any possible side effects. You may also still request an exception and accommodation of the vaccine mandate based on medical reasons or a sincerely held religious belief. Please do so by following the instructions on this page. If you have questions or concerns about vaccination, please visit Smithsonian’s collaborative Vaccines&US website.

Your support of the COVID protocols we have put in place, including your response to the vaccine mandate, have allowed the Smithsonian to move forward safely and confidently with museum reopenings, public programs, and other offerings. Thank you.

Stay safe, be well, and get vaccinated!
COVID-19 Response Team

Posted: 3 December 2021
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni is primarily responsible for "other duties as assigned" in the Office of Communications and External Affairs. She has been with the Smithsonian since 2006 and plans to be interred in the Smithson crypt.

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